Project:Re3 has been volunteering at the Overflow Shelter in Winston-Salem. On Monday, my family volunteered at the shelter at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. My husband and I volunteered along with our three kids (ages 12, 10 and 5). We also volunteered with some of my coworkers.
We served as "meal volunteers." Meal volunteers arrive at 7:45 pm at the appropriate location (a number of churches across Winston-Salem serve as overflow shelter locations). Meal volunteers are asked to bring a healthy meal, drinks, plates, napkins and eating utensils. We brought pizza and cookies, but the men at the shelter also love home cooked meals like baked lasagna, fried chicken, and chili. Redeemer Presbyterian was decorated for Christmas, and we set the table and set up the food before the men arrived.
Some members of our group were also check-in volunteers. Check-in volunteers are also at the shelter from 7:45 pm until 9 pm. At the shelter location, each guest is assigned a bin. The bins have sheets and pillows. When the guests receive their bin, they take the sheets and pillows, and they place their personal belongings in the bin for the night. The check-in volunteers help coordinate handing out the bins and help lay out the mats, which are pictured above.
When the guests arrived, we served them food and drinks. After the guests received their food, we sat and talked to them. Volunteers are invited to stay and fellowship with the guests at the shelter until lights out. I met a number of the guests and listened to their stories. Some of the guests simply talked about their favorite foods. Other guests shared prayer requests and told me more about their past. Two of the guests touched my heart, and I look forward to getting to know them as we continue to volunteer this winter.
After all of the guests had eaten, we cleaned up and left around 8:45 pm.
If you have the time, another need at the shelters is for overnight volunteers. Overnight volunteers serve from 9 pm until 6:30 am. Two volunteers are needed. One volunteer stays awake to monitor while the other volunteer sleeps. Then the volunteers can alternate shifts.
If you would like to help, but do not have the opportunity to serve, the shelters also need blessing bags. Blessing bags contain essential items for the guests, such as toothbrushes and toothpaste. A detailed list of items needed can be found here.
If you are interested in serving or learning more about the overflow shelters, you can get information here.